Western Cape MEC of Health Theuns Botha responds to complaints surrounding the closure of the GF Jooste Hospital.
Cape Town -
I visited the Mitchells Plain Hospital and convened an urgent meeting with management on Friday to address and resolve all the issues that have been in the media recently.
With regard to the decommissioning of GF Jooste Hospital and the commissioning of the new Mitchells Plain Hospital, the department has acknowledged previously the challenges in ensuring fully operational systems, patient protocols and staffing procedures in a new hospital that was within days of its opening functioning at full capacity.
The department sincerely regrets the inconvenience suffered by patients as a result and has apologised to those concerned in this regard.
All complaints that have been received have been thoroughly investigated and where necessary remedial steps taken.
The department has on numerous occasions stated the reasons for the closure of the GF Jooste Hospital, which an expert report has indicated should be demolished, to enable it to be rebuilt.
Had this not been done the concurrent operation of the GF Jooste Hospital, while it was rebuilt, would have resulted in far worse disruption of patient services and a significant escalation in the total cost of the project.
I would like to respond to the following issues that have been raised by various organisations through various media reports:
A large number of six clinical and 48 nursing staff have been appointed and commenced duty at Mitchells Plain Hospital this month. An additional six doctors and 22 nurses will assume duties on Thursday.
The Departmentadvertised all posts nationally,but few applications were received. Those who were successful in their interviews could, however, not vacate their current positions until after the festive season. This has contributed immensely to the delay in the filling of posts.
With regards to a dispute regarding the job descriptions of doctors previously employed at the GF Jooste Hospital, a number of meetings have taken place between the doctors, Sama and management.
The process has not been finalised and for this reason the department would not wish to comment further. That said, the resolution of this matter will further improve patient care within the hospital.
The Carnation ward, situated on the adjacent Lentegeur Hospital precinct, will open on Sunday and accommodate an additional 56 medical patients. This unit will be fully staffed and will assist in alleviating the current pressures on the number of beds available at Mitchells Plain Hospital.
In addition to this, the Magnolia Ward will be reopened in March.
The facility will consist of 20 beds and function as a step-down facility to decant patients who are less acutely ill.
This will result in 76 additional beds at Mitchells Plain Hospital and bring much needed relief to the current pressures experienced.
The full Obstetrics and Gynaecology service will also be commissioned on March 1.
Mitchells Plain Hospital is a district hospital and as such does not have a high-care facility, but the function was shifted to Groote Schuur Hospital with the appropriate resources for patients referred from Mitchells Plain Hospital who require high and intensive care.
The appropriate referral and transport of patients between the two hospitals has also been prioritised. Claims by Sama and other organisations that there is an increase in the number of deaths at Mitchells Plain Hospital are irresponsible and unfounded. There has actually been a decrease in deaths at Mitchells Plain Hospital over the past three months.
The claim of a lack of senior clinical cover at the hospital is far off the mark. Specialised posts were advertised and job offers were made to the successful candidates but unfortunately they declined and the hospital is in the process of re-advertising these posts. As an interim measure Groote Schuur Hospital is providing these services and an additional sessional specialist started on December 17.
An internal medicine specialist is physically based at Mitchells Plain Hospital and four additional internal medicine specialists from Groote Schuur Hospital are assisting with specialist ward rounds and specialist advice to the doctors at Mitchells Plain Hospital daily.
The construction design of the building limits cellphone connectivity within certain areas of the hospital.
The department has invited the major cellular networks to tender for the installation of additional cellphone reception boosters and the contract will be signed soon.
The equipment will be ordered in January and will be installed in March.
The department will make available a shuttle service to transport patients to and from the traffic circle (off AZ Berman) to the hospital. This service will start today.
Taxis with legal operating permits also enter the hospital to drop off and pick up patients, visitors and staff. A dedicated taxi with decals is used, to identify it as a taxi transporting people to and from the hospital.
The overload that we are experiencing at Mitchells Plain Hospital is experienced at all our emergency centres across the province, and is the result of the burden of disease and the migration the Western Cape is experiencing from other provinces, exactly as a result of the quality of our health services.
We underestimated the load and demand for the service and we are now expanding the health service platform in order to meet the demand.
Alcohol abuse is a key driver of violence in communities: 80 percent of our health budget is spent on the results of alcohol and substance abuse.
We need people to celebrate responsibly during the festive season, so that we can channel our resources at emergency centres to treat patients who suffer from non-preventable diseases.
Western Cape MEC of Health